Benefits of Impact Windows and Doors
Hurricane season can cause serious anxiety, even if your home is prepared to withstand the storm. And while boarding up windows and laying down sandbags can be effective ways to prevent damage from wind and rising waters, upgrading your windows to endure 200-mph gusts will give you even more peace of mind.
Storm impact windows protect homes against large, wind-borne debris. From the outside, they look just like regular windows. However, unlike regular windows, they offer a cost-effective, long-term solution for damage – ideal for homeowners who live in areas where hurricane season is just another part of summer and fall. Unlike hurricane shutters, which act as a physical but light-blocking barrier, impact windows allow homeowners to see outside. With that said, you might even want to double your protection and invest in both hurricane shutters and storm impact windows to fully prepare for hurricane season in your area.
Here are five benefits of impact windows to keep in mind before the next storm approaches.
1. Storm Protection
One of the major benefits of impact windows is their ability to withstand flying debris; they offer the best protection against the hurricane-force winds that threaten properties every year.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), windows and doors are the primary sources of most household damage during a storm—which is why it’s so important to protect them. How do hurricane impact windows compare to traditional windows? Let’s take a look.
In coastal environments, standard windows and glazed portions of doors are vulnerable to impact from windborne debris, FEMA reveals. Once broken, traditional windows and glazed portions of doors can allow wind, debris, and rain into the interior of the building In addition, shattered windows and doors increase pressure within the building, which could cause long-term structural damage.
By design, storm impact windows utilize impact-resistant laminated glass and a special silicone glazing process to help your home withstand pressure from high winds, debris, and heavy rains. Not only will this technology keep your belongings safe, but it will increase the chance of your house remaining intact.
According to Johna Elisco, vice president of All-American Doors and Windows, exterior aluminum casings can also help if you live in a storm-prone area. “While not the top-performing material in terms of heat transfer and loss, aluminum windows are practical in rainy, humid climates, and they meet stringent coastal building codes in hurricane-prone areas thanks to their strength,” Elisco explained to HGTV.
These upgrades are especially important for older homes, which can be more damage-prone. Newer homes are often built with hurricane dangers in mind and are more likely to meet coastal building codes. In Florida, for example, building codes are updated every five years. If you have an older house, consider upgrading your windows to storm impact windows in order to prevent structural damage, and help ease anxiety throughout hurricane season.
2. Discounts on Insurance
With insurance premiums in coastal states on the rise, homeowners who live in hurricane-prone areas are on the hunt for discounts and budget-friendly repairs. You might be surprised to learn that investing in impact windows can help you spend less on home insurance.
Many home insurance policies offer discounts to homeowners who upgrade each entry point of their house, explains Dean Fulton, an insurance agent based in Fort Lauderdale.
"Adding shutters or impact glass is a huge discount, but every opening must be protected," Fulton told the Sun-Sentinel. “That includes skylights, glass blocks, doors, and garage doors. If you had 40 openings and protected 39, the discount is still zero. You must protect all 40."
Over time, insurance savings could help mitigate the cost of rising premiums. This is especially important if you live somewhere like Florida, where hurricanes are becoming more intense as part of a long-term climatological trend.
3. Lessens Homeowner Anxiety
Even well-prepared homeowners face anxiety about potential damage to their homes and belongings during a hurricane. With many homeowners still struggling to pay for damage repairs from last year’s storms, it’s easy to understand why.
A large property upgrade—like installing storm impact windows—can feel out of reach, especially for homeowners on a budget. Local communities are still reeling from Hurricane Irma—but many homeowners are still prioritizing upgrades as they rebuild, reveals Casey Logan, a Fort Myers-based reporter.
“One of the primary initial goals is to get new roofs on homes and new storm impact windows installed in residences that mostly did not have them due to their age,” Logan writes in the News-Press.
Properties built before 2002, like many of those impacted in the Fort Myers area, are less likely to have the storm impact windows recommended by new coastal construction guidelines.
Ygrene financing can help make home upgrades like impact windows feasible and improve homeowners’ peace of mind during the next round of storms.
4. May Lessen the Cost of Future Repairs
Last year, Florida residents claimed more than $8 billion in property damage after Hurricane Irma swept through the Gulf Coast. But that number is much lower than it could have been, says Sarasota reporter Gayle Guynup.
“Experts agree, it could have been much, much worse. If the storm surge had come through as first predicted, we would be writing a very different story,” Guynup reveals.
Homeowners in the path of Irma took on plenty of storm preparations, from closing storm shutters to laying down sandbags. But Miami native and chief meteorologist John Morales explains that homeowners can do more to lessen the cost of future repairs, too.
“I’m not talking about running to the hardware store to buy plywood,” Morales tells Ygrene. “I’m talking about having storm impact windows and perhaps some other form of permanent protection or envelope that keeps the house safe.”
As Morale suggests, even if you have upgraded your windows, remember to take extra precautions before evacuating. Florida-based contractor Chris Gratton agrees. “Even if you have impact-resistant windows, you should still brace them and leave shutters closed,” Gratton told Consumer Reports.
Learn more about the advantages of storm protection upgrades and find out if your property qualifies.
Another ancillary benefit of storm impact windows is that they can insulate your home from noise. Because storm impact windows are made with laminated glass—with an extra layer of polyvinyl butyral designed to catch debris—they provide excellent soundproofing in addition to storm protection.
Experts indicate that the average window has an STC, or Standard Transmission Coefficient (the value used to gauge sound transmission), of 29 or less—while storm impact windows have an STC between 32 and 35. That’s a big difference if you’re trying to block out street noise.
Impact windows will not only improve your home’s safety should a hurricane hit, but they’ll also help your home feel comfortable, private, and calm throughout the year.
6. Improve Energy Efficiency
Storm impact windows don’t just protect your home with their layers of impact-resistant glass, they also offer an insulating effect. If you use air conditioning or heating but your home has single-pane glass, your HVAC system is likely working overtime. But if you switch to impact windows, you might be able to reduce your energy costs, as heavier-duty windows prevent air from escaping.
Unlike plywood or hurricane shutters, impact windows require a one-time installation. Once your storm windows are in place, there’s nothing else you need to do. A hurricane can strike without warning. Luckily, storm windows provide continuous protection so even if you’re not home during a storm and you’re unable to put up additional barriers, your home still has a quality defense.
8. UV Protection
Ultraviolet (UV) light can age and damage valuable interior coverings and degrade artwork, fabrics, and paint over time. Impact windows can block up to 99 percent of UV rays and protect your home’s interior assets. This will preserve your furniture upholstery, family photos, valuable heirlooms, even your children’s artwork, for years to come.
9. Home Security
Hurricanes aren’t the only event that storm windows can protect against, they also provide security should burglars attempt to break the glass. Windows that can withstand winds of up to 200 mph are significantly harder to crack. In fact, the thickest inner polyvinyl butyral (PVB) layers have even stopped bullets (though this isn’t always the case).